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The Michigan Union reopens in Ann Arbor

The Michigan Union opens its doors to the public after 20 months of renovations on Jan. 13, 2020.
The Michigan Union opens its doors to the public after 20 months of renovations on Jan. 13, 2020. (Meredith Bruckner)

ANN ARBOR – The historic Michigan Union reopened to the public on Monday after 20 months of renovations.

The $86.6 million project was prompted by students, who wanted more gathering space for student organizations and study groups.

Long lines formed before the grand reopening and Michigan Union director Amy White said that students were already taking advantage of the space.

Students in one of the first floor study lounges in the Michigan Union on Jan. 13, 2020. (Credit: Meredith Bruckner)
Students in one of the first floor study lounges in the Michigan Union on Jan. 13, 2020. (Credit: Meredith Bruckner) (Meredith Bruckner)

“Students have moved right in,” said White. “We opened two hours ago and students are already studying in the study lounge, they’re already using the Idea Hub. They’re exploring the spaces and finding their places and that’s exactly what we hoped for.”

Beyond students, White said colleagues from around the university attended the grand opening as well as alumni.

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“Lots of alumni (are here) that remember the space from when they were here as students, so that’s been neat," she said.

Amy White, director of the Michigan Union, poses for a photo during the building's grand reopening on Jan. 13, 2020. (Credit: Meredith Bruckner)
Amy White, director of the Michigan Union, poses for a photo during the building's grand reopening on Jan. 13, 2020. (Credit: Meredith Bruckner) (Meredith Bruckner)

While some areas of the building underwent minor updates, like the Rogel Ballroom and the basement that will house food vendors, other areas were completely transformed.

Most notably, the courtyard -- known as the indoor Diag and which used to be green space -- is now an enclosed two-story atrium with flex seating and a distinct Block M at its center. Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea adjacent to the courtyard had a steady stream of customers throughout the day.

The new enclosed courtyard at the Michigan Union.
The new enclosed courtyard at the Michigan Union. (Credit: Meredith Bruckner)
Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea opens inside the Michigan Union on Jan. 13, 2020. (Credit: Meredith Bruckner)
Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea opens inside the Michigan Union on Jan. 13, 2020. (Credit: Meredith Bruckner) (Meredith Bruckner)

Around 200 students and staff were seen wearing yellow T-shirts to welcome visitors and help guide them through different areas of the building.

University of Michigan junior and student information assistant Payton White greets visitors at the Campus Information Desk on Jan. 13, 2020. (Credit: Meredith Bruckner)
University of Michigan junior and student information assistant Payton White greets visitors at the Campus Information Desk on Jan. 13, 2020. (Credit: Meredith Bruckner) (Meredith Bruckner)
A member of staff greets visitors at the Michigan Union on Jan. 13, 2020. (Credit: Meredith Bruckner)
A member of staff greets visitors at the Michigan Union on Jan. 13, 2020. (Credit: Meredith Bruckner) (Meredith Bruckner)

Read: Get a first glimpse inside the newly-renovated Michigan Union

On the second floor, the former Billiards Room has been transformed into the Idea Hub -- a large gathering space for student organizations. The Idea Hub is flanked by conference rooms that are available for students to reserve in advance.

On the south-facing side of the second floor are lockers and movement studios available for students to use.

A color-blocked Block M inside the Michigan Union's Idea Hub on Jan. 13, 2020. (Credit: Meredith Bruckner)
A color-blocked Block M inside the Michigan Union's Idea Hub on Jan. 13, 2020. (Credit: Meredith Bruckner) (Meredith Bruckner)

Students could be seen throughout the building taking pictures on their phones and reminiscing about how much the Union has changed.

Senior Jhelan Smith said she is thankful she got to see the Union completed before she graduates in the spring.

“It’s kind of nostalgic coming in here again,” said Smith. “I got to see all the rooms I went to events in as a freshman and sophomore. And now there are so many more study spots and places to do homework and a lot of collaborative spaces which is really cool. I’m just glad I got to see it before I graduated for sure.”

Students Jhelan Smith and Daniel Smith outside the Michigan Union's Idea Hub on Jan. 13, 2020. (Credit: Meredith Bruckner)
Students Jhelan Smith and Daniel Smith outside the Michigan Union's Idea Hub on Jan. 13, 2020. (Credit: Meredith Bruckner) (Meredith Bruckner)

Junior Daniel Smith said he is looking forward to reclaiming his old study spot after the building closed for nearly two years.

“The Union is definitely a special place and having it back in general is just really good for the campus,” said Smith. “It feels really amazing seeing all the hard work they put into it. I remember doing homework in the basement of the Union. It’s definitely about to be my go-to study spot again.”

Michigan Union hours:

  • Monday: 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.
  • Tuesday: 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.
  • Wednesday: 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.
  • Thursday: 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.
  • Friday: 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.
  • Saturday: 8 a.m. to 12 a.m.
  • Sunday: 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.

The Michigan Union is at 530 S. State Street.


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